At a workshop on media ownership conducted by the FCC on Tuesday, representatives of various investor and analyst groups spoke of the benefits of deregulation in boosting the viability of U.S. broadcasters that have struggled recently in the midst of a laggard economy and declining ad revenues. As FCC Media Bureau Chief Bill Lake confirmed that staffers are “formulating” a notice of inquiry on the agency’s media ownership rules “which we hope to do as early this year as we can,” industry analysts attending the workshop argued that the time of large-scale media consolidation is past as declining revenues and rising debt have induced many investors to pull out of the industry. In reply to Associate Media Bureau Chief Sarah Whitesell, who asked “what will it take for investors to embrace this industry again,” Brian Rich, the managing partner of media investment firm Catalyst Investors, said, “you want to try to figure out how to return the sector to growth,” as “investors . . . like businesses that are going up.” To spur such growth, most panelists agreed that relaxed restrictions on broadcast-newspaper cross ownership and on the ownership of two TV stations in the same market would help, as Rich emphasized: “the regulatory environment during this next upcoming cycle can have a profound impact on the future of broadcasting.” Brandon Burgess, the CEO of Ion Media, agreed, as he observed that “regulation designed to ensure that traditional outlets across various old media don’t dominate yesterday’s world does little to ensure that diverse, independent and innovative players have a fair and equitable chance to compete.” One panelist, however—Terry Jones of Syncom Funds—cautioned against media deregulation, as he argued that such an approach “allows those who have resources, who have gotten those resources free from the Commission over the last 80-some years, to be able to buy up what’s really important, which is spectrum.”